There are many generally accepted behaviors and exchanges between people in a committed relationship that are oftentimes, in reality, very problematic and unacceptable. Overprotecting, vigilant, dominant, overbearing, and controlling personality traits or behaviors are often interpreted as positive, such as the abuser doing what they do “out of care/love” for their partner.
Of course, there are many other behaviors and characteristics that are blatantly unhealthy, such as verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The hallmarks of an unhealthy relationship include manipulation, lying, cheating, sexual abuse, incessant or unprovoked accusations, putting the other person down, any physical altercation or threat, attempting to change the other person in order to suit the abuser’s personality or desires, causing disorder in the other’s life, and/or creating a situation in which one person largely or entirely depends upon the other.
A healthy relationship is one that consists of mutual love, respect, space, growth, encouragement, consent, independence, and overall good intent and deed.
Of course everyone makes mistakes, but if one hurts their partner in a serious way, and/or hurts them repeatedly over time, and makes no effort to change their flawed behavior, it may be considered abusive and hurtful to their partner, and potentially themself and others who may be involved indirectly.
Unfortunately, our society condones (oftentimes through the media) many injustices and abuses, many which infiltrate our day to day lives and interactions. Staying aware, yet still having trust in your partner, and having open communication with your partner is the best way to ensure that the relationship stays mutually happy and healthy.
No one deserves to be in an unhealthy relationship, so if you feel you are currently in one, talk to your partner (only if this is a safe option), talk to a friend or family member, get outside/professional help, and/or leave the relationship as soon as possible.
For more information on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, please visit http://youth.gov/youth-topics/teen-dating-violence/characteristics.